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Gunfire, blasts hit Maiduguri

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KANO (AFP) – Gunfire and explosions erupted in the city of Maiduguri on Tuesday as soldiers moved into an area where members of Islamist group Boko Haram were believed to be hiding, residents said.

“There have been at least eight explosions in these neighbourhoods and soldiers have moved in with tanks and have taken over the whole area,” one resident said.

Another said the area was largely deserted by residents after earlier signs that soldiers were preparing a crackdown. Alleyways had been sealed off ahead of Tuesday evening’s violence, they said.

Residents said the area affected had been cordoned off and included the neighbourhoods known as Shehuri, Abbaganaram, Budum and Hausari. Military officials were not responding to phone calls.

The city of Maiduguri is at the centre of Boko Haram’s insurgency, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives since mid-2009. The group’s mosque and headquarters were located there until they were destroyed in a 2009 military assault.

Nigerian troops have also been accused of abuses in Maiduguri, including burning homes and killing civilians in the wake of bomb attacks.

Thousands of residents have fled the city amid the spiralling violence.

 

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